Lucky Lucky Charms

I was at Kroger last night buying some milk and walked through the cereal aisle to see if they had any good deals. For a while now they’ve had Cocoa Pebbles for $2.15 when just about any kind of cereal there is costs more than $3.00. I hadn’t had any of that in a while and I had some healthier cereals at home already so I picked up a box. Further down the aisle I saw that Lucky Charms were 2 for $4.00. But then I saw on the front that every box included a free iTunes purchase on the inside. That was like getting 2 boxes of cereal for $2.02! So I put the Cocoa Pebbles back.

Once I was at home, I tried to be very careful cutting the box without cutting the bag, but I wound up cutting the bag anyway. The box also said that 1 in 10 redemptions also would receive 5 extra free songs. Even with 2 boxes those were long odds. Tonight I entered the web address www.itunes.com/redeem in Mozilla and it started a 3 megabyte download before I gave up and started Internet Explorer which instantly opened iTunes (I guess Mozilla was downloading iTunes, that would have been a wait at 50.6 kbps). Anyway, I entered the code and instantly received 6 free songs!

Idea for Apple

Apple has been very successful with iTunes and the iPod. Maybe it has even helped them sell more iMacs. But clearly it is time for them to move on. I don’t just mean little tweaks like the rumored iPod phone or full-screen video player (which I hope comes out in July and will be cheap enough that I can pay for it with AdSense and Amazon money). And I was thinking about the nano today and how easy it would be to bend or break it while it is in your pocket and I thought a good idea would be to put a hinge in it like a small cell phone.

Actually I’m thinking that Apple could really beef up iTunes, maybe calling it iHome or something and really make a big play on home automation and controlling home entertainment systems. I think they could put all the ingredients together by using wireless networks to stream programming to home stereos and TV’s. They could record HDTV programming from cable, satellite, or broadcast signals (like Tivo), along with letting you download music and video either to own or rent. Maybe they could find a way to combine DRM and let you rip your own DVD’s to store on a giant hard drive. And it would all be served by an Apple computer. You could surf the net too and do it via a remote control (which could be a Blackberry or iPod). If a TV incorporated Airport you could completely eliminate all the wires connecting to it except for power.

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Astroturfing

When I was on iLounge I found a new word, “astroturfing”. I sort of thought I knew what it meant, but didn’t look it up. Whatever it was, it was forbidden in the discussion areas. While doing some research on different iPod battery packs, I found one that had glowing reviews on iLounge. But a closer look revealed the person had only made one comment on iLounge ever. While reading some other sites, I found a very similar review. In fact it had exactly the same misspelling in it. I thought this must be astroturfing. But, according to Wikipedia what I was seeing was shilling, where a person claiming to be independent of the company pretends to be a satisfied customer. This technique is used in street cons like 3-card Monty and other places.

Astroturfing is when someone poses as multiple people who discuss the great qualities of some product trying to make it look like it has great grass roots support, when everything is fake (fake grass!). Wikipedia had a great example of this from the Iraq war in 2003 where a number of soldiers had written letters to the editor of their hometown papers saying how great everything was going in the war and how the media distorted everything. Apparently a number of these letters made it into newspapers before an editor who had gotten the same letter from two different people started poking around. A few quick Google searches turned up the exact same letter in other newspapers. In the end it all came down to an ambitious Lt. Colonel in the army who wanted to drum up support for the war.

Way Back Machine

I remember reading (or maybe Jeb told me; that’s kind of like reading) something about a website that archived past versions of web pages. That way you could go back and see what web pages used to look like last century. At lunch today we were talking about out-of-date web pages and I mentioned the Way Back Machine (which I remembered being the name of the site, but it is not the URL). At this point it was pointed out to me that the original Way Back Machine was how Mr. Peabody would go back in time on an old cartoon. Then we tried to remember whether Mr. Peabody was the dog or the other person and which one wore glasses (the dog did) and what the person’s name was . . .

Anyway, I found www.webarchive.org pretty quickly. I was hoping they would have some links to some of the most popular or interesting websites, but they pretty much leave it to you to look up URL’s and then they show you a list of archived pages of that site from different times. They did have one section of archived websites from September 11, 2001 that seemed like it would be interesting. But I entered GDOT’s URL to see what they had and even found some of the very first web pages that I had ever written, long since modified or deleted on my own computer.

Then I looked for mac.fiveforks.com and found stuff from way back in 2003, before blogs, when the site was called FOKAJ (in the title, FOJAK on the page itself). It doesn’t seem to save large pictures, or maybe it just isn’t saving pictures at all unless they are still in the original location. And the blogs don’t work well because they use separate style sheets that are not captured.

Amazon Q1 Results

The quarter ended yesterday, so I got the last of my data this morning. As I said earlier the results were much better than I expected.

I sold 23 Belkin Battery Backpacks, 2 BTI Battery ii’s, 2 Griffin Tunejuice batteries, and 2 iPod travel chargers. I’m amazed that so many people chose the Belkin battery pack, though I guess that’s what I would choose too and Amazon has the best price at $25 (the Apple Store charges the full list price of $50 for the same thing). Combined with a few other items like DVD’s, CD’s (thanks, Jeb!), bass strings, and software that sold, the total was $1,016.71 in sales with a commission of $60.78.

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